Gaps happen in our lives, careers and businesses. Two of the most common gaps are gaps in time and gaps in communication. How many times have you checked the time on your watch or Smartphone and said to yourself: “what have I done in the last few hours?” or sat on the telephone or across from someone and wondered: “What are they thinking?; I don’t know what to say, ask or answer; or Should I say something?”
Gaps in time in your life are referred to as me-time or downtime, in your career as transitions or pursuing other opportunities and in your business as a slowdown or reorganization. In communication, gaps in conversations can be welcome breaks, pregnant pauses or uncomfortable silences; gaps in text or e-mails can fuel feelings of fear, anxiety and impatience and lead to mistakes and misunderstandings. Another gap can be in your routine when it is changed or interrupted by a positive or negative person, event or situation.
If you are an extremely busy and productive individual who believes in multitasking and measures your self-worth by what you accomplish in a day then you may see gaps as barriers and time wasters. However, once you have experienced the gap and reflect on it, you may shift your perspective, be more prepared, see gaps as gifts and gain valuable knowledge and experience from them.
When you find yourself in a planned or unplanned gap in your life, career or business, whether it is a gap in time, routine or communication, here are nine steps that you can take to make the most of the gap.
The first step is to Stop and Assess. Ask yourself these questions: Is this a gap in time, routine or communication? How much control do I have over this gap? What action if any do I want to take at this time?
The second step is to Find Your Place. A sudden gap may have caused you to lose your way. Take the time to figure out where you are and what route you need to take before you continue to navigate the gap.
The third step is to Accept Where You Are and make the best of the situation. Avoid wasting valuable time and energy resisting the gap.
The fourth step is to Practice Patience with the person or situation if it is a time, routine or communication gap, and with yourself and others if it is a life, career or business gap.
The fifth step is to Take Your Turn. When an opportunity comes your way, to take action, move forward or narrow the gap, even if you are unprepared, grab the opportunity and go for it.
The sixth step is to Keep Your Rhythm. Even a few seconds of uncomfortable silence can seem like an hour in a conversation. A day without work can seem like a year if you are between jobs or contracts. A day without an e-mail or phone call can seem like a month of silence. Keep a to do list of activities so that you avoid losing your rhythm.
The seventh step is to Slow Down to Speed Up. Trying to move quickly through a gap will cause you to waste time, make mistakes and miss out on the lessons to be learned in the gap. Slow down then increase your speed gradually as you move through the gap.
The eighth step is Make a List. The list may be a list of ideas, strategies, actions, solutions, lessons, insights and/or commitments.
The ninth step is to Prepare to Move On. The gap may start to feel very comfortable. Remember it is temporary and you need to make a plan and take the necessary steps to leave the gap behind and enter the next chapter of your life, career or business.